Thankfully, rifles like the SIG522 Classic, the newest addition to SIG Sauer's popular 500 series of rifles, offers more than economic respite. Sporting virtually identical ergonomics to its larger-caliber siblings, the SIG522 makes the perfect training aid. It also possesses something its larger-caliber siblings don't—the thrill and undeniable fun associated with shooting a rimfire.
The SIG522 possesses virtually the same appearance of its big brother—the SIG556 Classic. In fact, the 522's upper receiver (also manufactured from 7075-T6 forged aluminum alloy) boasts an integral Picatinny rail running its full length. The only clue to suggest the rifle's small caliber is its tiny, oval-shaped ejection port. Surprisingly, the same similarity doesn't apply to the Model 522's lower receiver, which is constructed of durable, glass-filled, high-impact polymer composite—more than adequate enough to withstand the moderate pressure and stress levels generated by .22 LR.
Ambidextrous safety selectors are found in large insets, located toward the rear of the receiver, just behind the trigger guard and above the pistol grip. Manipulation is just as easy—if not more so—than the safety on AR-platform rifles, and should be familiar to shooters with knowledge of other SIG 500 series variants or Heckler & Koch semi-automatic rifles.
Despite being blowback-operated, the SIG522 contains a decorative gas valve that has a hollow storage cavity.
A departure from the 500 series, the SIG522 also has ambidextrous magazine releases. Located between the upper-most curve of the trigger guard and the magazine well, the small, serrated portion of the offset button pivots to the side when pushed, allowing the 522's 25-round magazine to fall effortlessly from the receiver. Made from translucent polymer, the magazine allows shooters to visually monitor ammunition levels.
The folding synthetic buttstock retains elements from the SIG556 Classic, including a triangular shape with a skeletonized center and sling-attachment points. A trunnion enables the stock to fold along the right side of the receiver, and a socket inset—located in the butt—clips to a plastic stud on the fore-end to securely lock the folded stock in place. Tugging firmly releases the buttstock, enabling it to be extended quickly. A half-moon-shaped button not only locks it in place, but also frees it for folding. In addition to its ability to fold, the SIG522's stock is also adjustable for length of pull over three positions. The rifle ships with three interchangeable plates for shooters who wish to customize the stock to preset lengths, along with a second 1-inch-long buttplate.
A button on the telescoping stock locks it into the extended position, and a trunnion enables the stock to fold to the right.
Though its appearance doesn't reveal it, the SIG522's synthetic fore-end consists of two parts that interlock solidly through a series of linear, molded hooks and slots along the surface of each part. Molded vertical ribs provide a non-slip surface and add to the 522's cool factor. Similar ribs are found on the pistol grip. Holes at the 3-, 6- and 9-o'clock positions are drilled and tapped to accommodate an optional M1913 rail kit. Both upper and lower handguards contain dual rows of elongated holes to help dissipate heat—in case you surrender to that urge for rapid fire.
Considering the SIG522 Classic is blowback operated, I was pleasantly surprised by the presence of the distinctive, but decorative, SIG gas valve. It serves as a storage tube as opposed to a piston housing, and a second storage compartment is located in the pistol grip. Yet, I was disappointed at the absence of the hooded front sight commonly found on SIG 550 series rifles—especially given the fact that part of the allure of Picatinny-railed upper receivers is the versatility of utilizing backup iron sights. My other nitpicking gripe pertains to the AR-style muzzle device that tops the SIG522's 16.6-inch barrel. While I realize the same A2 cage is on the SIG556 Classic, to me it looks as appropriate as racing stripes on a VW bug. Luckily, MFI manufactures numerous aftermarket SIG accessories, including hooded front-sight assemblies and muzzle brakes.
I selected a Trijicon 1-4x24 mm Accupoint riflescope for testing, because the low-power variable would be a good match at short to intermediate ranges. At the range, I quickly discovered that not only was my optic selection a good match, but the SIG522 also possessed nearly identical ergonomics to my NFA-registered SIG556 short-barreled rifle. One exception concerns the design and placement of its bolt catch. Instead of a single, lower-receiver-mounted lever that requires upward movement to release the bolt—similar to the SIG556 Classic—the Model 522's bolt catch consists of a horizontal, bidirectional lever found on the left side of the upper receiver.
In addition to its dual safety selectors, the rifle also contains an ambidextrous magazine release.
Needless to say, the SIG522 Classic proved an absolute joy to shoot. Only three malfunctions occurred: one misfire with the Winchester load. The remaining two— failures to feed with Fiocchi—were caused by heavy fouling.
Despite a substantial amount of take-up, the SIG522's trigger, although slightly on the heavy side, had a clean let-off. The rifle showed little preference in regard to ammunition. Each tested load produced .75-inch groups at50 yards. I suspect the rifle would have produced even tighter groups with a traditional-style reticle.
If the high cost of ammunition has reduced your training time and dulled your tactical edge, there's a solution: The SIG522 Classic is designed to duplicate the look, feel and operation of its bigger brother, making rimfire trigger time much more than mere plinking—it's practice steeped in fun.